Saturday, March 28, 2015

'The Heidi Chronicles' Returns With New Enticements to Witness

Heidi (Elisabeth Moss) and Scoop (Jason Biggs) have history in "The Heidi Chronicles." Photos by Joan Marcus.


as a movement has evolved or perhaps devolved since the 1960s. Women of a certain age recall the allure of bra-burnings.

The younger ones tend to distance themselves from their elder sisters. Being a feminist feels like a betrayal of their sexuality.

"The Heidi Chronicles," in revival at the Music Box Theatre (recently rolled back from 9 Aug. to 3 May), is here to remind us all that liberation – both sexual and careerist – was a goal of the feminist movement. (See video below).

Wendy Wasserstein won a Pulitzer in 1989 for "The Heidi Chronicles," which also grabbed a Best Play Tony that year.

In this production of "The Heidi Chronicles," there is a well-delineated timeline for Heidi Holland (Elisabeth Moss) as she grows from awkward teen to awkward woman. EM never seems fully at home in her Heidi except in scenes where she is lecturing on art history. Heidi is a professor of art who laments the neglect of female painters.

While still in high school, she meets Peter Patrone (Bryce Pinkham) who becomes a lifelong friend. She attends the dance at which Peter and she meet with her other bestie, Susan Johnston (Ali Ahn).

In college, Heidi goes on to meet the irresistibly charming and self-centered Scoop Rosenbaum (Jason Biggs). Their encounter at a rally for Eugene McCarthy leads to an on-again off-again love affair.

Despite that their friendship survives even after Scoop marries. JB's Scoop is carelessly charismatic and flamboyant. BP is excellent as Peter to EM's Heidi. (The Swiss tale in which Peter and Heidi are prominent gets a mention in the course of the play. And, yes, one might also be put in mind of a well-known Peter and Wendy in children's lore.)

In the ensemble, AA is a standout and very funny as Susan who goes from callow teen to a deeply committed young adult and back again to a shallow and successful professional woman as she matures.

Ali Ahn, Elisabeth Moss and Elise Kibler in "The Heidi Chronicles."

Tracee Chimo is a character actress who gets to trot out and display her many talents in a variety of roles. Foremost of these is her turn as April, TV host with a fleeting attention span who interviews middle-aged Heidi, Peter and Scoop as representative boomers.

As the action slows and dulls toward the end of the second act, it looks as if this production, under Pam MacKinnon's direction, is abandoning the entertainment value of "The Heidi Chronicles" in favor of its valuable historical perspective.

Peter Negrini is responsible for the enlivening video montage that keeps the earlier scenes moving. John Lee Beatty has designed a well-appointed, yet minimalist set that also moves with the times of Heidi's story.

Tracee Chimo, Jason Biggs, Elisabeth Moss and Bryce Pinkham in "The Heidi Chronicles."

The revival of this important work mostly attracts two distinct groups. It appeals to those who lived through the times it describes. In the other camp, the draws are JB (“Orange Is the New Black,” "American Pie"), EM (“Mad Men,” “Top of the Lake”) and BP (Tony-nominated in "A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder.")

Even in an imperfect form, though, it's good to see Wendy Wasserstein's work back on a Broadway stage.

Visit to learn more about "The Heidi Chronicles."

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